With the recent introduction of registration for paramedics, and an absence of assessment tools that align undergraduate paramedic student practice to competency standards, this pilot study undertook to develop and evaluate a competency assessment tool designed to provide a standardised approach to student competency assessment. This paper reports the first part of a two-part enquiry evaluating the efficacy of the Australasian Paramedic Competency Assessment Tool (APCAT) to assess the practice competency of undergraduate paramedic students.
With a focus on gathering professional opinion to evaluate the usability of the tool and inform its development, a mixed methods methodology including a survey and open-ended questions were used to gather data from paramedic educators and on-road assessors in Australia and New Zealand. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and content analysis.
The outcome of the evaluation was positive, indicating that 81% agreed or strongly agreed that the tool was user-friendly; 71% believed that expectations of student performance and the grading system was clear; 70% found year level descriptors reflected practice expectations; and 66% believed that the resource manual provided adequate guidance.
The APCAT is simple and aligns student practice expectations with competency standards. Results indicate the support for a consistent approach for assessment of undergraduate paramedic student competence. Further research will be undertaken to determine the efficacy of using this tool to assess students in the clinical setting.
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. [Internet]. 2017. Available at: www.ahpra.gov.au/ [Accessed 5 January 2020].
Paramedic Council. Paramedic Registration Update. [Internet]. 2020. Available at: www.paramediccouncil.org. nz/_Web/Public/News/Paramedic-Registration-Update.aspx [Accessed 22 September 2020].
Hickson H, Williams B, O’Meara P. Paramedicine students’ perception of preparedness for clinical placement in Australia and New Zealand. BMC Med Educ 2015;168:1-7. doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0446-7
O’Brien K, Moore M, Hartley P, Dawson, D. Lessons about work readiness from final year paramedic students in an Australian university. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine 2013;10:2-14. Available at: https://ajp.paramedics.org/index. php/ajp/article/view/52
Reid D, Street K, Beatty S, Vencatachellum S, Mills B. Preparedness of graduate paramedics for practice: a comparison of Australia and United Kingdom education pathways. ibid. 2019;16:1-11. Available at: https://ajp. paramedics.org/index.php/ajp/article/view/666
Paramedicine Board of Australia. Professional standards. [Internet]. 2018. Available at: www.paramedicineboard.gov. au/Professional-standards.aspx [Accessed 5 January 2020].
Al Shammari T, Jennings P, Williams B. Emergency medical services core competencies: a Delphi study. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine 2019;16:1-8. https://doi. org/10.33151/ajp.16.688
Ossenberg C, Dalton M, Henderson A. Validation of the Australian Nursing Standards Assessment Tool (ANSAT): a pilot study. Nurse Educ Today 2016;36:23-30. Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26296544
Dalton M, Davidson M, Keating JL. The assessment of physiotherapy practice (APP) is a reliable measure of professional competency of physiotherapy students: a reliability study. J Physiother 2012;58:49-56. doi:10.1016/ S1836-9553(12)70072-3
Rodger S, Clark M, Banks R, O’Brien RM, Martinez K. A comparison of international occupational therapy competencies: implication for Australian standards in the new millennium. Aust Occup Ther J 2009;56:372-83. Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20854548
McAllister S, Lincoln M, Ferguson A, McAllister L. Issues in developing valid assessments of speech pathology
students’ performance in the workplace. Int J Lang Commun Disord 2010;45:1-14. Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/19424886
Andersen P. Determining competency for entry to nursing practice: a GT study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation 2008. Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.
Tavares W, Boet S, Theriault R, Mallette T. Global rating scale for the assessment of paramedic clinical competence. Prehosp Emerg Care 2013;17:57-67. doi:10.3109/10903127. 2012.702194
Bowen M, Williams B. Assessment of US paramedic professionalism: a psychometric appraisal, advances in medical education and practice. Adv Med Educ Pract 2020;11:91-8.
Paramedics Australasia. Competency standards. [Internet]. 2017. Available at: https://nasemso.org/wp-content/ uploads/PA_Australasian-Competency-Standards-for- paramedics-2011.pdf [Accessed 5 January 2020].
Brightwell R, Sim M, Lord B. Standards and quality indicators for best practice in paramedic and interprofessional experiential practica. 2014. Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Available at: http://hdl.voced.edu. au/10707/378533
Smith A, Framp A, Andersen P. APCAT: Australasian Paramedic Competency Assessment Tool. USC Australia. 2020. Available at: https://dx.doi. org/10.25907/5e5462e46de4c
Minichiello V, Sullivan G, Greenwood K, Axford R. Handbook of research methods for nursing and health science. 3rd edn. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education; 2004.
Olle C, Glenn R. The power of subjectivity in the assessment of medical trainees. Acad Med 2019;3:333-7. doi:10.1097/ ACM.0000000000002495
Cant R, McKenna L, Cooper S. Assessing preregistration nursing students’ clinical competence: a systematic review of objective measures. Int J Nurs Pract 2013;19:163-76. Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23577974
Hawker J, McMillan A, Palermo C. Enduring mentoring partnership: a reflective case study and recommendations for evaluating mentoring in dietetics. Nutr Diet 2013;70:339- 44. doi: 0.1111/1747-0080.12050
Gonsalvez C, Calvert F. Competency-based models of supervision: principles and applications, promises and challenges. Aust Psychol 2014;49:200-8. doi:10.1111/ ap.12055
Ramsden P. Learning to teach in higher education. 2nd edn. London: Routledge Falmer Taylor & Francis Group; 2003.